Nearly ten years ago, Jeremy Rosado fulfilled a childhood dream when he landed a spot on American Idol’s 11th season. At the time, the Puerto Rican singer was just 19. He made it to 13th place.
Now, the Valrico resident is back in front of the cameras representing the Tampa Bay area — this time, as a member of Kelly Clarkson’s team on The Voice.
He chatted on the phone with the Tampa Bay Times about his path as an artist, his dreams of making Christian music and what it’s been like to work with his hero.
This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.
American Idol and The Voice have been two huge parts of your music journey. How does this current experience compare to your past?
I never thought in my life that I would be doing The Voice after being able to make that as far as I did on Idol. I’m so thankful to the network and to Kelly for believing in me enough to give me a shot.
I was definitely a kid and I had a lot of immaturity vocally back then. I was 19. I’m 29 now. So the experience being on the road for years, doing shows, being a worship leader singing every weekend, putting out records — all these things have definitely changed who I am.
I was telling my mom this morning I’ve been flooded with comments. People are like, ‘Oh my god, you’re like a totally different singer than when you were on Idol.’ That’s that’s the goal, though.
Tell me about what working with Kelly has been like. What are you learning?
She is everything she is on TV. She’s strategic because she also was on American Idol, so she knows how to navigate it. I remember I watched the finale when she won. She’s the reason I wanted to do a show like this. I was 10 years old and I ran to the living room to tell my parents, ‘I’m going to be on this show.’ That was the greatest thing I got to tell Kelly. I just got to thank her for being who she is. It’s such as full circle.
She’s making decisions on our songs. She is strategically helping find moments to let me shine.
How has your background living in Valrico shaped you into the musician you are today?
I’ve been in Brandon, Tampa, Valrico for 15 years. But I grew up in New York. The younger years, that’s what has shaped me, like growing up in a Puerto Rican family in the middle of Queens. I would actually have these concerts with my brothers. We would be either dancers in the show or collecting tickets at the front. My family, they are the ones that that saw that thing in me when I was like, 6 years old, and knew that music was going to be it for me. I’m one of six kids. I’ve got 19 nieces and nephews, so we are the Puerto Rican Brady Bunch.
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Then when I moved to Brandon, I competed in every talent show that Tampa, Brandon, Valrico, Dunedin, St. Pete, Clearwater had to offer. I know that I was young, but I was actually winning these shows and it was incredible. I sung choir in Brandon High School and the gospel choir at Durant High School.
Tell me about your family’s story and how that plays into your music career.
My sister, she struggled with some stuff that just didn’t allow her to be the mom she needs to be. And so my mom got custody of my niece. When she was 2 years old, I was 13 and we began to raise a kid together. My mom had a full-time job. I even ended up becoming homeschooled at some point and going to school online. I started to learn how to become a dad and ended up getting her guardianship signed over to the state legally, so she actually became my daughter. Never did a full adoption. She’s already a teenager.
She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I say it over and over and over again. But you know, along with that I definitely had to push the music aside because I had to provide for my daughter, to be a single dad. It’s crazy now that she’s graduated high school and she’s in college. She’s in her first semester, which is weird to say, because she’s still a baby to me. I’m able to actually take a chance [with music] because it’s her time to spread her wings. Leaving her here alone, missing her graduation, it’s been a lot. But she’s incredible.
What’s the thought process that goes into picking the songs you sing during competitions?
I think I’m taking experience from Idol, where song choice failed me in my last round. That experience has given me PTSD. It’s also kind of fueled me to be strategic. So I am tapping back into young Jeremy, who wanted to sing these big ballads.
When we’re on a show like this, we all have a thing. And my thing is this big emotional guy who sings the big emotional songs. So I want to pick songs that kind of play to my story, or that I feel so deeply. I want to sing some worship music. These are the things that I think through when I’m trying to pitch songs to Kelly.
What do you want viewers to know about you?
I’m excited for people to find me on Spotify and Apple Music, because I do have three albums. I’m excited for welcome home shows. I want my hometown to be there with me to celebrate this. I love being the Puerto Rican guy on The Voice. I love having young kids see somebody that maybe sounds like them, looks like them. I’m so proud of that.
What happened after Idol? What was the local response like?
I remember when I came back from Idol, I had a welcome home show. I think over 2,000 people showed up. Offers just started coming in like crazy. And obviously we did like a good three, four years of being on the road and making music. It changed my life and it landed me a job at a mega church and I became a worship leader. That provided a full-time salary and all the things that we need as humans to live, to be able to provide for my daughter. That’s how I was able to really do it for us and still have flexibility to travel whenever I did book a show. I’m still booking shows to this day because of Idol.
I will forever be grateful for all of all the things that did for me. I really want a shot at Christian radio, even locally, like Joy FM or Spirit FM. I’ve got some things in mind that I think are gonna help and I’m excited to see where it goes.